Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it safe to travel to Iraqi Kurdistan?
We believe it is, considering the following factors; since the end of the war in the south of Iraq in 2003, not a single coalition soldier or foreigner has been attacked or kidnapped in the areas administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). There have been very few major security incidents in the Kurdistan Region due the organisation of the security arrangements put in place by the KRG.
Why should I travel to Iraqi Kurdistan?
The primary reasons we would encourage people to visit is the beautiful scenery, the friendly and accommodating people and the fact that mass tourism is virtually unknown in this region.
Do we travel into the non-Kurdish controlled areas of Iraq?
The short answer is a definite no. We believe travel into Iraq is not safe at this time.
Can I book my flights through Kurdistan Adventures?
Not at the moment. We do however provide plenty of information on transport into Iraqi Kurdistan and links to several airline companies under the Travelling to Kurdistan section on our web site.
Can you provide tailor made or private tours for our group?
Yes we can. Please contact us for further details.
What is the standard of accommodation like on your tour? Are singles and couples catered for?
All hotels are carefully selected to meet our standards and represent the best available - 4 stars or better where possible. Breakfast is included at each hotel and will also usually include internet access. Singles, couples and groups can be accommodated.
What is our transport on the tour?
Our private buses are chosen for their combination of reliability, comfort and size. Luggage is stored separately in the bus. The tour guide ensures everyone can hear them. Occasionally, we may elect to use 4X4 or other vehicles while on tour.
How much should I budget per day for incidental or personal expenses?
This is difficult to answer for each person but bear in mind meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and bottled water are included. Additionally, all entrance fees are included. Snacks, alcohol and souvenirs are not.
What currency is accepted in Iraqi Kurdistan? Are ATMs or cash points available?
The primary currencies are the Iraqi Dinar and the US Dollar. Iraqi Dinar is often preferred for smaller purchases, although many places will accept US Dollars. The exchange rate is around 1100 Iraqi Dinars to the US Dollar. There are very few ATMs available, none of which can be relied on to withdrawl money. Kurdistan is predominately a cash society so you should bring enough funds for your trip.
How do I pay the deposit and balance for my tour booking?
Due to banking sanctions and the state of the banking system in Iraq, we kindly request that this deposit be made via an intermediary bank - details of which will be provided via email. These deposits will be held subject to clauses 7, 8, 9 and 27 of our bookings terms and conditions. We request that the balance be paid in person on arrival in USD cash. We regret that we simply cannot accept credit cards at this time.
What is included on the Highlights of Kurdistan - 8 day escorted tour? What is the size of the tour group?
The full day by day itinerary and brochure is available on our web site. We try and keep the groups small (between 6 and 16) to encourage a greater level of interaction and intimacy between you (the traveler) and the local communities that we visit. We may operate the tour with fewer people at our discretion, however a small surcharge may be payable.
The full tour brochure and itinerary can be found here (PDF).
What is included on the day trips?
Further information on the day trips available is available here, which specifies what is included.
Is there any free time on the Highlights of Kurdistan 8 day escorted tour?
There is free time included on the escorted tour.
What languages are the escorted tour or day trips conducted in?
Both the escorted tour and day trips are conducted in English. The tour guide will usually speak another language such as Kurdish, or a European language although this is not guaranteed.
What languages are spoken in Iraqi Kurdistan?
The two main Kurdish dialects are Sorani and Kurmanji. Some English is spoken in the major cities as well as Arabic and Turkish.
Is there a culture or expectation of tipping? What about bargaining at the markets?
There is no wide practice or expectation of tipping – it is OK to pay the price requested for a product or service, or leave some small change as a thank you. Bargaining on the other hand is welcome, but in our experience, locals are surprisingly honest when dealing with tourists or foreigners.
Are there chemists or pharmacies in Iraqi Kurdistan? What medications are available?
There are several pharmacies available which stock common brands and types of medication – including those which travelers are most likely to require. There are no known restrictions on bringing medication of a personal nature, but it is usually wise to carry a letter from your doctor just in case.
Can I leave the escorted tour and rejoin it later? Can I leave and do my own thing?
It is not possible to leave and rejoin the tour as we are running to a schedule. Free time is included as part of the escorted tour.
Do I need to obtain specialist travel insurance to visit Iraqi Kurdistan, or join one of your tours or day trips?
Travel insurance is compulsory for all Kurdistan Adventures travellers and should be taken out at the time of booking. You must provide proof of your travel insurance on the first day of your tour or day trip; you will not be able to join the tour or day trip without it.
Do I need a visa for Iraqi Kurdistan? I require a visa; can you sponsor my visa application?
Many citizens including those of US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Canada and many EU counties do not require a visa in advance to visit Iraqi Kurdistan. On arrival by either the overland crossing from Turkey or by flight into Erbil or Sulymaniyah, a 15 day entry stamp will be issued for free in your passport. Should you require a visa, we are looking into offering visa support services in the future.
I’m thinking about traveling overland from Turkey. How easy is it to cross the border into Iraqi Kurdistan?
Provided you don’t need a visa in advance, it is quite straightforward and this is our recommended overland border crossing. Further details are available under the Travelling to Kurdistan section on our web site.
I’m thinking about traveling overland from Iran. How easy is it to cross the border into Iraqi Kurdistan?
We have heard reports of foreign tourists usually having no problems. It may take a little longer than crossing from Turkey.
I’m thinking about traveling overland from Syria or Jordan. How easy is it to cross the border into Iraqi Kurdistan?
It is neither possible to cross the border into Iraqi Kurdistan nor is it considered safe, as you would be crossing the border into Iraq. These border crossings are not part of the Kurdish controlled areas.
I would like to extend my visa and stay in Iraqi Kurdistan – can you assist me with this?
Yes we can – the process is to visit the Directorate of Residence to get your entry stamp extended. This usually must be done within the first 10 days of arriving. The issue is that it is usually very confusing where you have to go, who you have to talk to and so on. We are able to provide a Kurdish speaking representative to help you with this.
What are your escorted tours like? Typical age, sex and nationality of travelers?
Every tour is different with people of varying age and nationality. By keeping our tour group sizes small, we are able to remain flexible and cater to individual requests and change the flavor of each tour.
I am a female traveler. Do I need to dress differently in Iraqi Kurdistan?
We would encourage both men and women to dress as they would feel comfortable and respectful in visiting any other middle eastern culture. There is certainly no requirement for a Western woman (particularly a non-Muslim) to wear something she wouldn’t normally wear or to cover up. The exposure of limbs and chest is not common amongst local women, however, headscarves are not required. Scarves are sometimes required when visiting any religious sites.
What type of food is available in Iraqi Kurdistan? Do you cater for food preferences/allergies on your tour or day trips?
The food is one of the highlights of our tours and we have tried to demonstrate this through the local restaurants we visit and the unique Kurdish style of picnics. Both meat and vegetable dishes feature prominently with the cuisine itself being similar to Turkish or Iranian. Alcohol is sometimes available with meals in restaurants. The local drink is known as Arak – a clear, colorless aniseed flavoured alcohol mixed with water and ice. Beer, wine and spirits are also available. Provided we are informed of any specific food preferences or allergies, we will contact our suppliers to request an alternative, although this can not always be guaranteed.
Is the water safe to drink?
Drinking the tap water although probably safe enough, is not recommended due to the fact that bottled water is readily available and we provide it as complimentary on our tours or day trips.
What type are the electrical plugs in Iraqi Kurdistan?
Several types of wall sockets are in use including the British and US style plugs. It is recommended to bring a travel adaptor with you.
What is the weather like? What about suggested clothing?
There are quite distinct seasons in Iraqi Kurdistan but the two extremes are winter (from Dec to Feb) and summer (from Jun to Aug) where the temperatures drop and rise accordingly. Spring (from Feb to May) and late Sep to Nov is particularly nice.
What vaccinations are suggested or recommended?
It is worth checking with your doctor to obtain their latest advice.
Is there Internet access available in Iraqi Kurdistan? Will my phone work there?
Yes – we try and ensure it is available in our accommodation plus there are internet cafes in the larger cities. Iraqi Kurdistan uses GSM which is a common standard so it is likely your phone will work. That said, if you want to stay in contact, we would highly recommend purchasing a prepaid SIM card in country as roaming call rates are usually very expensive.
Can I take photos/video during my visit?
Of course – many people do not mind their photos or video being taken. However some care must be given to not record photos or video which may be deemed of a government, military or security nature.
Is alcohol available in Iraqi Kurdistan?
Yes – alcohol is often available at restaurants or night clubs, or for purchase from bottle shops. Some drinks such as beer are cheaper, whereas good wine or spirits can be more expensive.
I think you’re a great company. How do I enquire about employment or partnership with Kurdistan Adventures?
We’re always looking for great people that share the same passion as we do. Contact us to find out more. If you are a local or overseas company (tour company, travel agency) looking for a partnership, we are always interested in discussing opportunities.